Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer Radiates Kindness, Charm and Sensitivity
Peter Graves narrates this account of the life and career of Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer, from events leading to the time of her birth in Scotland, the daughter of Kathleen Rose Smale and Captain Arthur Charles Kerr-Trimmer, a British pilot injured during World War I.
As a child, Deborah would delight in the Performing Arts and collect as many movie star references as possible with dreams of one day visiting far-away Hollywood as a performer in her own right.
But when hard times befall her family, they accept accommodations from Deborah's stern paternal Grandmother Trimmer, who directs Deborah's formative years with a no-nonsense approach to life.
In 1933, Deborah attends boarding school, at which the very shy child discovers the liberty of shielding herself in characters upon the dramatic stage.
By the end of the 1930's, Deborah turns to her Aunt Phyllis, who instructs Drama in Bristol, UK. From here, she obtains an audition in London with Producer Gabriel Pascal, who recognizes her potential talents, signs her to appear in a series of British Films, with the screen name of Deborah Kerr.
While many are forced to evacuate London because of German air raids and bombings during the WWII blitz, Deborah continues to maintain her film acting career, as the balance of her early British films are produced during these very dangerous circumstances.
Hollywood's MGM Studios soon takes notice and signs the lovely Deborah to a motion picture contract, assigning to her roles as elegant English ladies in period films.
But it is at Columbia Pictures, where Deborah Kerr makes her most noticeable mark before American audiences of the day, after her agent arranges to place her name for consideration for the role turned down by Joan Crawford, of Karen Holmes in "From Here to Eternity" (1953).
Well, the next day, when Columbia Chief Harry Cohn kids Director Fred Zimmerman that some guy was trying to sell him on that proper British lady Deborah Kerr for the role, Fred Zimmerman turns around and suggests, "I think that you should consider her."
This episode follows the outstanding Deborah throughout the remainder of her acting career and explains her decision to retire to Switzerland at a young age, after becoming the film star who is nominated for a record six Best Actress nominees by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, without being awarded an Oscar for her fine acting achievements.
Deborah's marriages are with Producer Anthony Bartley (1945–59) and Author Peter Viertel (whom she marries in 1960). With Anthony, she welcomes two daughters, Melanie Jane and Francesca Ann.
Two of Deborah's stage performances mentioned here include "Tea and Sympathy" (Broadway, 1953-55) and "The Corn Is Green" (West End, London, 1985).
Interview Guests for this episode consist of Francesca Shrapnel (Daughter), Joe Shrapnel (Grandson), Ted Trimmer (Brother), Anne Hutton (Manager/friend), Hayley Mills (Actress), Jean Simmons (Actress), Marni Nixon (Singer), Delbert Mann (Director), Rudy Behlmer (Film Historian), and Eric Braun (Biographer).
Archive footage includes Deborah Kerr in a 1986 interview plus scenes of several film acting roles, with Rex Harrison, Wendy Hiller, Marie Ault, George Carney, Roger Livesey, Kathleen Byron, Montgomery Clift, Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant, David Niven, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Megs Jenkins, John Mills and Gregory Peck.
Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Deborah through the years, in scenes from "Major Barbara" (1941), "Love on the Dole" (1941), "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" (1943), "Black Narcissus" (1947), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The King and I" (1956), "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" (1957), "An Affair to Remember" (1957), "Separate Tables" (1958), "The Grass Is Greener" (1960), "The Innocents" (1961), "The Chalk Garden" (1964), "Casino Royale" (1967), "Prudence and the Pill" (1968), plus television's "The Steve Allen Show: From Hollywood: The Photoplay Movie Awards" (1958), and "The 66th Annual Academy Awards" (1994) (TV).
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